Oh no! I thought as I opened our curtain to a world of white. Unlike in other parts of the country, April snow is not unusual in Colorado. But my husband and I had just returned from Texas, and I was not anxious to slop through the wet snow to refill my fridge.
As I watched the dark sky brighten, I felt this particular morning was somehow unusual. I wasn’t sure why. Perhaps it was the pristine scene of the still snow not yet disturbed by humans or cars. Then the leafless Mountain Ash outside my window caught my eye. Its branches extended from the strong trunk to smaller branches, no more than several inches thick, and trailed off to twigs only a quarter inch thick. Each was holding at least its width in heavy, wet spring snow.
I called my husband to the window. “Why is something so fragile able to uphold such heavy snow?” I asked. “Because,” he said using his ability to see things from an analytical perspective, “there is no wind.” He was right! I knew instantly what had initially caught my attention was the stillness.
I began to think about the slender twigs at the branches’ ends and the burden they held. Like the twigs on Mountain Ash, there are many fragile people among us: people who have little strength or are physically or emotionally thin. Yet, they still contain the life that will spring forth when their winter burden is over and the first Crocus of spring pops through the snow. Hopefully, like the Mountain Ash, the fragile in our world will leaf out and become stronger as seasons pass and their branches thicken and reach upward.
The survival of we fragile human beings depends on many things, two of which are our connections to others who can help us survive and the absence of a wind of crisis that is too strong and can break our entire branch from the tree.
The snow began to fall again, and I wondered how much more the thin twigs could hold. A question popped into my mind: Does God really give us only what we can handle? I’ve heard that cliché all my life with the same response: anger at the trite statement that people intend as comfort for others—or to reassure themselves. To me, and I suspect many, it is not comforting. In truth, I’ve seen how life has given some more than they can carry, and they end up like broken branches laying on the ground. I know for myself that He has often given me too much to carry without Him—and perhaps that is the point.
The fragile people in our world, the human twigs that are able to survive two or more times their width of life’s burdens, are as much to be admired as the strong human trunks and thick, sturdy branches that can carry more snow. All the necessary parts of the human tree touched my heart that morning. At any given time, I may be either the trunk, a branch or the twig. I am happy to be any part of the tree and can appreciate the weak and the strong in both others and myself.
I no longer dreaded the trip to get groceries. Instead I was grateful for the reminder of the human condition that this snow-laden tree had brought to mind. I smiled, turned from the window and began my day.